By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
January 13, 2022
Wake County parents trying to keep pornographic books out of the hands of children are facing an increasingly uphill battle. The local library system has returned “Gender Queer” to its shelves while it rewrites its policy for removing books, and the district attorney has refused to file criminal charges against the public school system for distributing obscene materials.
“Gender Queer,” described by the News & Observer as “a story told in a comic-strip format about the author’s journey of identifying as nonbinary and asexual,” contains “illustrations involving nudity and erotic scenarios,” the newspaper says.
Last month, after complaints about the book and one titled “Lawn Boy” were filed, Wake County Public Library officials admitted that “Gender Queer” does contain explicit illustrations that do not align with the library’s selection policy and removed the book. But on Monday they announced that the book would once again be available for checkout while they rewrite their procedure for reviewing controversial materials.
WCPL Director Mike Wasilick told the media that best practices had changed since the review process was created in 2005. “We recognized it was time to modernize our procedures and ensure they’re inclusive, open and supportive of a public library that welcomes all,” he said.
His move came after the ACLU of North Carolina, Equality NC and the LGBT Center of Raleigh released a joint statement attacking the library for removing the book. Nearly a dozen librarians have now been tasked with writing a new review policy which must get approval from library administration, the community services department, the county manager’s office, the Wake County Library Commission and the County Board of Commissioners.
Then, both “Gender Queer” and “Lawn Boy” — books that Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson called “filth” — will be reviewed under the new policy.
“This appears to be a classic case of ‘if you can’t win the game, change the rules,’” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “No one seemed to have had a problem with the library system’s review policy until this sexually-explicit book ran afoul of it. Then suddenly the policy has to be rewritten.”
He urged Wake County commissioners to be on their toes when the new policy is presented, perhaps as early as Feb. 28.
Creech said he was disappointed that the DA’s office did not move forward with charges against the school system, which has been offering books such as “Gender Queer,” “George” and “Lawn Boy” to children.
District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said the matter should be handled by way of the school system policies, not in a court of law. The district’s Central Instructional Materials Advisory Committee is already reviewing several complaints about books in various school libraries. This week, the committee voted 6-1 to allow Cary High School to keep “Lawn Boy” in the school’s collection.